Janitor working during renovation of office building dies of mesothelioma. $107M. Los Angeles County.


Plaintiffs claim exposure to asbestos from building products used in the original construction in the 1970s.

The Case

  • Case Name: Hernandezcueva v. EF Brady Company, Inc. et al.
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC475956 (consolidated with BC558820)
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Tuesday, July 11, 2023
  • Date Action was Filed: Tuesday, May 01, 2012
  • Type of Case: Asbestos, Wrongful Death
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Cary H. Nishimoto
  • Plaintiffs:
    Jovana Collantes individually and as successor-in-interest to Joel Hernandezcueva
    Nohely Hernandez
    Joanna Hernandez
    Joel Hernandez, Jr.
    Jenny Hernandez
  • Defendants:
    EF Brady Company, Inc.
    Elementis Chemicals, Inc.
    Union Carbide Corporation
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $107,336,044
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    46.4% apportioned to Union Carbide Corporation

    10% apportioned to EF Brady Company, Inc.

    5% apportioned to Elementis Chemicals, Inc. So

    61.4% of noneconomic damages apportioned to the three trial defendants

    $75 million in punitive damages to Union Carbide Corporation

  • Economic Damages:


  • Non-Economic Damages:


  • Punitive Damages:

    $75,000,000 against defendant Union Carbide Corporation

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: Approximately 10 weeks
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 6 days
  • Jury Polls: 12-0 on all damages questions, between 9-3 and 11-1 on liability questions.
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: None yet

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Dean Omar Branham Shirley LLP by Benjamin H. Adams, Rachel A. Gross and Jonathan A. George, Dallas, TX and Richmond, VA.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Polsinelli LLP by Stephen M. Nichols, Mary T. McKelvey and David K. Schultz, Los Angeles. (For Union Carbide Corporation.)

    Hawkins Parnell & Young LLP by Jerry C. Popovich, Santa Ana. (For EF Brady Company, Inc.)

    Dehay & Elliston LLP by William H. Armstrong and Heather L. Weakley, Walnut Creek and Los Angeles.  (For Elementis Chemicals, Inc.)

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Arthur Frank, M.D., Ph.D., specific causation, occupational medicine.

    Arnold Brody, Ph.D., general causation, cell biology.

    Cannon Milani, M.D. oncology. (Treating physician.)

    Brian Paik, M.D., primary care. (Treating physician.)

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):


  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    William Longo, Ph.D., materials science.

    Robert W. Johnson, economics.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Kenneth White, industrial hygiene.

    Gary Paoli, construction.

    Robert Gallucci, construction.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Joel Hernandezcueva was exposed to defendants' asbestos-containing products while working as a janitor during remodel and renovation at a large complex of office buildings in Irvine, called Park Place from 1992 to 1995.

    He later developed and died of pleural mesothelioma, an invariably fatal cancer of the lining of the lung only caused by exposure to asbestos. He was 45 years old. He left behind a 36-year-old wife, and four young children.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That the defendants' defective asbestos products and negligence caused Mr. Hernandezcueva's mesothelioma and death. That the asbestos-containing drywall and joint compound used in the original construction of the building during the 1970s caused harm to Mr. Hernandezcueva. Union Carbide’s asbestos supplied by Elementis Chemicals, Inc. was in the joint compound. EF Brady was the drywall contractor that sold and installed the joint compound and drywall during the original construction in 1975-1976.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendants denied negligence, denied that their products were defective, denied causation, and disputed the amount and extent of plaintiffs' damages.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Pleural mesothelioma and death.

  • Loss of consortium, economic and noneconomic damages, and punitive damages against Union Carbide Corporation.

Additional Notes

No defendant ever offered to settle. Plaintiff sent 998s to each defendant long before trial, including one to EF Brady in 2018.